“That one sounded close,” Miriam mumbled to herself. “I should go check on the kids.”
She opened the door a crack to see if her grandkids were asleep and found three noses pressed against the cold window.
Lightning flashed. “One-thousand-one, one-thousand-two, one-thousand-ooo,” the non-sleepy trio enumerated in unison. The windows rattled from the thunder.
“Ahem. You’re supposed to be asleep.”
“Who can sleep with this?” Chantel spoke for her younger siblings.
“Yeah, who can sleep with this?” Andrea mimicked.
Willie hopped off the window seat, “Can you tell us a story? This is good story weather.”
“Well, if you can’t sleep, how about some hot cocoa by the fireplace?”
“And a story,” Willie grabbed his Teddy bear.
“Alright,” Miriam gave in, “and a story.”
The threesome sat on the braided rug in front of the fire with their mugs, anxious for their grandmother to join them.
“I hope she tells us a scary story,” Willie gulped his lukewarm cocoa.
“I want to hear about a princess,” Andrea yawned.
Chantel pulled her little sister’s sleepy warm body close. “I like mysteries,” she whispered into Andrea’s fine hair.
Miriam lowered her creaky joints into the rocking chair. She reached into the front pocket of her apron and pulled out something shiny. The flames of the fire made it glimmer like magic dust. “Tonight I will share the power of the purple ring.” She exaggerated her words to intensify the mystery of the delicate, filigree, gold-incased jewel.
“Did it belong to a princess?” Andrea appeared to be fully awake now.
“No, a pirate stole it, right Grandma?” Willie held out for a scary story.
“Ooo, a mysterious power,” Chantel grinned with delight.
“My mother gave me this ring. It has been passed down through four generations.”
“Hmph,” Willie crossed his arms over his chest. “A girl story.”
Miriam turned the intricately cut gem so the reflection from the firelight would draw their attention. “This ring is an African amethyst. When I slip it on my finger, the power of the ring takes me back in time.”
“Like a time machine?” Willie’s interest returned.
“One time I slipped on the ring, I saw my Grandmother Tabitha, knitting an afghan for a newborn baby. She’d rock back and forth and sing the sweetest lullaby. Somebody’s sleepy. Oh who can it be? It’s Nancy my darling so come here to me. I will sing to you and rock you and put you to sleep. Tra-la, tra-la, tra-la.”
“She sang to Mama?” Andrea caught the use of her Mother’s name.
“Yes, Baby-girl. Shortly after your mama was born, we lost Grandmother to pneumonia.” Miriam rocked and stared into the fire before continuing. The thunder had moved on and they could hear the heavy rain tap-dance on the roof.
“Another time I put the ring on and I saw my mother franticly beat back flames with a wet blanket. She screamed for me to get my brothers out of the house. Once we were all safe outside, Mother huddled us close in the cold and thanked God for our safety.”
“I saw Mama wear that ring.” Chantel now cuddled Andrea for her own comfort.
“Yes, your mama wore the ring often. It soothed her soul,” Miriam held the ring in her open palm. “This ring is one-hundred-years old and has been worn by my grandmother, mother, and daughter. Soon my granddaughters will wear it.”
Willie sniffed and wiped his nose on his pajama sleeve. “It didn’t have power to save Mama, though.”
Andrea whimpered and buried her face into Chantel’s chest. “Yeah,” Chantel gulped back a sob. “How come it didn’t save her from cancer? She wore it every day after she got sick.”
“It isn’t that kind of power,” Miriam spoke softly. Your mama wore this ring so she could go back in time and remember her grandparents, her childhood, and all the fond memories she had. “Then your mama prayed that someday you would slip this ring on your finger and feel the power of the purple ring.”
“I don’t understand,” Willie’s brow wrinkled with his question. “The ring doesn’t have magical powers to heal, but it has powers like a time machine?”
“Yes. When it is worn, it evokes images from our past that are hidden in our hearts. This ring holds the mysterious power to stimulate our memories.”
Miriam slipped the ring onto Chantel’s finger and whispered, “Go back in time, Sweetheart. Reminisce and help the young ones to remember her.”
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